Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Air Force searching for missing F-22.
BREAKING: Air Force says possible wreckage spotted. Search for pilot underway.
(Nov. 17) -- The Air Force is searching today for a missing F-22 fighter jet that lost contact with its Alaskan base during a training mission. The plane, which is based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, was carrying one pilot when it lost communication at 7:42 p.m. Tuesday local time. The Air Force has not released the name of the pilot.
The F-22 is a single-seat, twin-engine stealth plane built by Lockheed Martin. The missing plane became active in the service in the mid 2000s and was sent to Elmendorf in 2007, according to The Washington Post.
The Air Force describes the jet in a publicly available fact sheet:
The F-22, a critical component of the Global Strike Task Force, is designed to project air dominance, rapidly and at great distances and defeat threats attempting to deny access to our nation's Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft.
The F-22 can "supercruise" or fly at supersonic speeds (greater than Mach 1.5) without using its afterburner. As of November 2009, each plane cost $143 million and the Air Force had 137 of them, according to Fox News. Last year, Congress put a hold on F-22 production by eliminating the $1.75 billion that would have paid for seven new fighter jets.
Update: According to several sources this morning, an Air Force F-22 Raptor is long overdue in returning from a training flight that left from Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. Air controllers lost contact with the jet Tuesday at 7:40 p.m. AKST, and a Pentagon spokesperson told CNN that the jet is "believed to be crashed."
The story is still developing, but a statement from JBER says that search and rescue crews are already on the job, and are focusing their attention on the aircraft's last known location, an area northeast of Cantwell.
The Air Force has not released the pilot's name, but Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing commander said in the statement that the pilot is the Wing's main concern. "Right now, our top priority is to try to bring the pilot home safely," he said. "We will continue to search until we find our pilot. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this missing Airman."
UPDATE: ANCHORAGE, Alaska —
Searchers are concentrating on an area near Alaska's Denali National Park for an overdue Air Force F-22 fighter jet.
The jet, from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, was on a training mission when it lost contact with air traffic control Tuesday night. The plane carries one pilot.
The Alaska Air National Guard is leading the search effort, using three helicopters and a cargo plane. In a news release, the guard says the F-22 was flying with another fighter, which also lost contact with it.
The search area is concentrated near Cantwell on the east side of the national park and about 150 miles north of Anchorage.
Spokeswoman Corinna Jones said Tuesday night that the jet, with one pilot aboard, was on a training mission out of the base and lost contact with air traffic control at 7:40 p.m. Alaska time.
“Right now, our top priority is to try to bring the pilot home safely,” said Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing commander, in a release. “We will continue to search until we find our pilot. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this missing Airman.”
Jones says a search is under way. She declined to identify the pilot, but says the aircraft is assigned to Elmendorf's 3rd Wing.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 12:37 PM